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NOTEBOOK: Des Moines considering buying four electric vehicles


The city of Des Moines could soon join the growing number of government agencies across the United States that have electric vehicles in their vehicle fleets.

The City Council on Aug. 19 is slated to hold a public hearing on the purchase of four Nissan Leaf Hatchback electric vehicles for a cost not to exceed $120,000. If approved, the vehicles would the first electric cars in Des Moines’ fleet.

“This is a potentially significant step in what I hope will be a larger examination of how we approach our vehicle fleet,” Councilman Josh Mandelbaum said during a meeting setting the public hearing. 

Des Moines will not only “have an environmental accomplishment but I think if this works out, over time we will be saving the city money on fuel and operation and maintenance costs,” he said. “This is a small step toward a more sustainable Des Moines.”

In July, the Climate Mayors Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative announced that more than 140 U.S. cities and counties had committed to buying more than 2,000 electric vehicles by the end of 2020. Des Moines is a member of the collaborative, according to the group’s website.

The use of electric vehicles by cities and counties familiarizes residents with the vehicles, supporters of the initiative recently told Skip Descant of Government Technology magazine.

“They demonstrate to consumers, and normalize to consumers, that EVs are both the technology and transportation of the future and something you can buy right now,” Ben Prochazka, vice president for the Electrification Coalition, an EV advocacy group, told the magazine. “If it’s meeting the operational needs of a city, most consumers are much more likely to think it will meet their own operational needs on a daily basis.”

In Des Moines, the vehicles would be used by inspectors in the Community Development Department for the Blitz on Blight program.

The city’s facilities division is making plans for infrastructure to charge the vehicles. MidAmerican Energy is providing Des Moines with a $1,500 rebate for the installation of charging stations that will lessen the cost of the new infrastructure, according to a city document.

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